Symptoms of Advanced Stage Rheumatoid Arthritis

By Charlotte Gerber

  • Overview

    Symptoms of Advanced Stage Rheumatoid Arthritis
    Symptoms of Advanced Stage Rheumatoid Arthritis
    The advanced stages of rheumatoid arthritis are the most difficult for a patient. Severe damage to the joints is common. A change in the treatment plan may include a pain management component and in some cases, surgery. Other diseases may also affect these patients who have a compromised immune system and a weakened body.
  • The Facts

    The advanced stages of rheumatoid arthritis are debilitating both physically and mentally. Since the disease progresses differently in all individuals, the advanced stage of the disease may occur late in life, or early in life, depending upon the individual's age when the onset of the disease occurred. There are still treatment options for individuals in the advanced stage of the disease, including pain management and surgical procedures to help restore some functionality to the affected joints.
  • Symptoms

    The symptoms that occur in the advanced stage of rheumatoid arthritis often include those seen in the early stages, along with more pronounced degeneration in the joints. In this stage, the following symptoms are often seen: increased pain and stiffness in joints, redness seen on the area of the affected joints, joints are warm to the touch and visibly swollen, a low grade fever, severe joint and ligament damage and joints show obvious changes from baseline X-rays.


  • Effects

    The effects of the advanced stages of rheumatoid arthritis are severe debilitation and often depression. Individuals may be unable to perform their jobs, engage in any physical activities or enjoy their hobbies. Depending upon the severity of the damage, patients will either enter into a pain management program or choose surgical joint replacement to help restore some use of irreparably damaged joints. Individuals often need to quit their jobs and go on disability in this stage of the disease. They may even require the use of a walker or wheelchair to get around their homes and communities.
  • Treatment

    The treatment program for an advanced stage rheumatoid arthritis patient usually includes pain management and inflammation control. Physical therapy may be prescribed, which includes gentle stretching exercises and water therapy. A treatment program may also include prescriptions for anti-depressants or a referral for depression counseling. Often patients who experience losses of their career, mobility and the inability to enjoy their hobbies become severely depressed. A support group may also help to assist patients dealing with these losses in their life.
  • Misconceptions

    A common misconception about the advanced stage rheumatoid arthritis is that it causes death. The reality is that other diseases usually cause death in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Rheumatoid arthritis is usually listed on a death certificate as being a secondary cause. Since individuals who have rheumatoid arthritis have a weakened body and immune system, they are susceptible to other ailments which are life threatening, such as pneumonia, heart disease and diabetes.
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